Learning the languages of Pentecost: A Sermon for Pentecost, 2019

When I was twenty-one years old, I studied abroad for the year in Marburg, Germany. My trip there marked the first time I had ever flown on a plane, and while I knew I would be greeted by a friend when I landed, I was terrified. I had studied German for four semesters in college and while I could read with some facility, my speaking ability was quite limited and I my aural comprehension was weak as well. In the year I spent there, I gained considerable fluency that returned when I spent another year in Germany a decade later, and even when I traveled back some years ago. Continue reading

Pentecost and the power of love: A Sermon for Pentecost, 2018

“Come, Holy Spirit, descend upon this place and upon us, and fill us with the fire of your love.” Amen.

Today we celebrate Pentecost—the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, and the spread of the Spirit’s power and love throughout the world. We are also marking the end of our program year, and our young people are participating in the service, reading lessons and prayers, among other things. And then there are two baptisms as well. Such a celebratory feeling seems like a respite from our world. To rejoice, to come together as the body of Christ across all of the generations takes away from the distress and despair in the world around us. Continue reading

The Spirit blows where it will: A Sermon for Pentecost, 2016

 

Yesterday was one of those remarkable days in ministry that are inspiring and full of joy even if it meant I couldn’t have a relaxing afternoon, or work around the house. In the morning, the “More Just Community” task force gathered for an update on members’ engagement with issues of racism, mass incarceration, and inequity. With the chaplains at the Dane County Jail, we are developing a proposal to engage with prisoners during and after their stay in jail. We heard from members who participated in the Course on African-American history organized by Justified Anger and others who are working to build relationships with other churches and community groups. By the end of the summer, we hope to be able to roll out some exciting new programs and opportunities. Continue reading

It’s not the Birthday of the Church! A Sermon for Pentecost, 2015

One of the things that most annoys me about contemporary popular Christianity is the domestication of our practices, or really the infantilization of them. In our attempt to help outsiders make sense of what we do and what we believe, we have a tendency to dumb things down. It may also be that language and imagery developed to help children understand our worship, practices, and doctrine have become so ingrained that as adults we reach to them as well. Continue reading